To cap off our safari experience, we had a few encounters with those magnificent animals, the African Elephant.
We saw them roam the reserve, sometimes from afar.
And at other times, at rather close range.
It’s one thing to see them at a zoo, but another to see them freely roam. I felt very small indeed.
And as a grand finale, just before night-fall, we saw a whole herd on the move. My, weren’t they fast!
And that ends our South African journey. It’s been great to get a taster, but now it’s time to explore closer to home.
We were lucky with the weather on our first game drive, but unfortunately that luck wasn’t to hold. The rest of our game drives were cloudy, cold, even rainy affairs.
We did however see some wildlife, like these Vervet Monkeys seeking shelter in the forest.
Or a pair of teenage lions having a snooze in a secluded spot.
Some times, the scenes we encountered were entirely unexpected. Like a lone giraffe, wandering in the mist.
Now, on to some of my favourite, more elegant mammals.
We saw a few zebras on the reserve.
Their stripes made them instantly striking and elegant.
And one always has time for a giraffe.
Their long tongues and necks enable them to access leaves on all sorts of trees and bushes.
Including this spiny acacia bush. Wouldn’t want to get caught on this one…
We continued on our safari and found a few more typically African mammals. We start with a very ugly one, the warthog!
With their tusks, mullet and facial hair, could they actually be trend-setters for the 21st Century? These little ones were playing/fighting, and I found them almost cute.
At the waterhole, we were closely watched by a herd of hippos. It’s rather startling to think that behind each pair of eyes was a 1,500kg animal.
And moving on to bovines, we encountered a pair of Cape Buffalos grazing. We kept well away from those horns!
It’s safari time! Let’s jump into the convertible Land Cruiser and see what we can find.
Close to the camp, we found more female Nyalas.
And not too far away was a male Nyala. He looks very different from the females.
Africa of course is full of different antelope species. A species we saw a lot of in the reserve was the impala. You can recognise them by the M-shaped marking on their bottom! We saw some males.
And lots and lots of females.
Another common species was the blesbok – they have distinctive white faces and white bottoms. Our ranger reckons that means ‘eat me’ to predators.
These guys get very territorial, and this herd’s territory is the reserve airstrip!
At a game reserve, your waking hours are structured around your dawn and dusk game drives, each being 3 hours in length. That’s 6 hours a day to find animals! Our first dusk drive was a good one, and we got a lovely view of the sunset.
The rhinos in the last post was a bit of taster for our safari experience at Lalibela Game Reserve, about 90km to the east of Port Elizabeth. The reserve was located on 7500 hectares of Eastern Cape bushveld that was former farmland, and now stocked with African wildlife.
But first, we head to our lodge, Tree Tops.
Accommodation was in some great glamping tents – ensuite, reverse cycle air-con and electric blankets to keep out the early Spring chill.
The boardwalk ensures that erosion of the hillside was kept to a minimum.
There weren’t any fences so elephants have been known to walk through the camp. There weren’t any elephant neighbours during our stay, but we saw these lovely ladies as we walked down to lunch. They’re a type of local antelope called nyala.
Later, we saw a young buck, who was completely comfortable with our presence.
We were given a little taste of a game drive when we tackled this back road.
It bordered a game reserve and we were very lucky to see a pair of white rhinos grazing on the other side of the electric fence. Notice their tusks have been cut to ward off any poachers.
The drive proved to be a muddy ‘christening’ for our car!
At Cape St Francis, there is a small port with a fleet of trawlers. These boats fish for squid, which this stretch of coast is famous for, and other lovely eating fish that lives in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Predictably, we had to sample their catch, so at lunch time, we headed for the local restaurant at Jeffreys Bay, which was packed at Sunday lunch.
Their fish (a local variety of snapper) was succulent and very fresh. And like most things in South Africa, prices were very reasonable. This was about AUD $10!
This part of the Eastern Cape coast is famous for its surf, and Jeffreys Bay is the most famous (or infamous perhaps) of the lot.
The surf at Supertubes in winter is so fantastic that they host a round of the world surfing championships here. Yes, this was where Mick Fanning got attacked by a shark! It’s all about the swell and the wind direction, the locals say. We came in Spring and the wind was coming from the wrong direction, so the surf didn’t look too fantastic.
As for sharks, the locals say that shark attacks are rare along this stretch of coast, so Mick Fanning was a bit unlucky. It was good to hear that he returned to Jeffreys Bay a year after the shark attack and won the surfing tournament (without incident).
We saw a little bit of the coast west of Port Elizabeth, too. It was sweeping, windy, and mainly sand dunes. Reminded me a lot of Western Australia, actually.
There were plenty of aloes growing beach-side – not surprising since this was their natural habitat.
And what’s a piece of windswept coast without a lighthouse. This one stands at Cape St Francis, about 100km to the west of Port Elizabeth.